New Zealand retail sales volumes increased in the final quarter of 2015, led by housing and tourism activity.

The volume of retail sales gained a seasonally adjusted 1.2 per cent in the three months through December, from the September quarter, according to Statistics New Zealand. That lags behind the 1.4 per cent forecast in a Reuters poll of economists. Retail sales volumes for the September quarter were revised lower to 1.5 per cent from 1.6 per cent.

The New Zealand dollar slipped to 66.38 US cents, from 66.51 cents immediately before the report was released at 10:45am yesterday.

Core retail volumes, which excludes the more volatile vehicle related industries, increased 1.4 per cent in the December quarter, the agency said.

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New Zealand consumer spending is being buoyed by record migration and tourism, low interest rates and a strong housing market. That's helping the economy offset weaker returns for commodities as prices for dairy products, the country's largest goods export, slump below the average farmer's cost of production.

"Combined with strong population growth and low interest rates, low prices have provided a significant boost to spending," Westpac Banking Corp senior economist Satish Ranchhod said in a note. "This has been reinforced by a strong tourist season which has given spending in areas such as accommodation a boost. These factors are expected to continue providing some supporting for spending over 2016 (though over the coming year the strength of spending will be challenged by the deterioration in the global economy and weakness in export prices)."

Twelve of the 15 retail industries recorded higher volumes in the quarter, while 11 had higher sales volumes, according to the seasonally adjusted figures.

Hardware, building and garden supplies led the increase, with volumes rising 5.3 per cent.

- BusinessDesk